Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
Last season Clayton Kershaw faced the possibility that his final start with the Los Angeles Dodgers was going to be one cut short due to injury. More trouble with a left flexor tendon strain ended Kershaw’s 2021 season and sent him into free agency facing uncertainty.
The Dodgers decided against extending a qualifying offer so as not to place any added pressure on Kershaw as he focused on getting healthy. The MLB lockout added another wrinkle to the situation as the Dodgers weren’t able to monitor his progress throughout the offseason.
Conversations once free agency resumed quickly led to Kershaw re-signing with the Dodgers on a one-year contract, which was accompanied by the three-time Cy Young Award winner expressing confidence in his health.
Now after making four Spring Training starts, Kershaw said he’s gained more confidence in being fully recovered from last year’s left forearm/elbow trouble, per Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
“I think it’s proven to me I’m healthy,” Kershaw said after his third start. “No matter how you feel in the offseason, no matter how much you do to prepare and get healthy, you’ve got to go out there in spring training and face teams and go through the five-day routine and things like that.
“So I think for me, there’s a little peace of mind that I can do it. I’ve bounced back now for a few times. … I think I’ve kind of proven mentally in my head that I’m okay.”
Kershaw threw 11.2 innings and allowed four earned runs across his four Cactus League starts. He stretched out to 53 pitches and collected six strikeouts over four-plus innings against the San Francisco Giants in his final tuneup of Spring Training.
Throughout the spring Kershaw flashed his patented curveball and sharp slider along with strong command of the fastball.
With Walker Buehler scheduled to start Opening Day against the Colorado Rockies, the Dodgers have not yet announced where Kershaw will slot into the starting rotation.
Kershaw appreciative of Dodgers
Kershaw found a silver lining with the lockout and was grateful for the Dodgers granting necessary time to evaluate his health.
“The lockout was honestly a blessing for my wife and I. Just selfishly, to be able to make sure my elbow is OK. We didn’t want to make any decisions without knowing I was going to be 100%,” Kershaw said after reporting to Camelback Ranch for the start of Spring Training.
“So without the distraction of trying to figure out where to play, honestly that’s a credit to Andrew (Friedman) as well for not having to do the qualifying offer. That was really nice. Didn’t have to make that decision right away, which was huge for me. It just gave me time to figure it out.”
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